Keynote International Speakers

Plenary Lectures

Wiley-Mackenzie Lecture

Dialogues on Land, Water and Communities

Tuesday 7 August, 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm


This presentation features Dr. Margo Greenwood (University of Northern British Columbia, First Nations Studies) who will give a talk on land, water and First Nations communities. At this time she will respond to the questions and issues raised with the audience. The discussion will be chaired by Dr. Sarah de Leeuw (University of Northern British Columbia, Northern Medical Program and Geography).

Margo Greenwood
First Nations Studies


Shuaib Lwasa
Professor, Department of Geography
Makerere University

Wiley UGI-ACG Plenary Lecture 

Appreciating the geographies of heterogeneity and unity in Africa: a socio ecological perspective 

Wednesday 8 August, 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm


The African continent is known by various descriptions and geographies but much less understood by those outside the continent. Geopolitically Africa is characterized as the remote, economically emerging continent entangled in persistent challenges of war, political dictatorships, poverty, disease and more recently migration. These characterizations have become stereotypes of events, practice and behavior typically referred to as “African”. But Africa is quite diverse in respect to resource endowments, ecosystems, societies, cultures, colonial histories, economic advancement, politics, languages and demographics. This very diversity shapes the geopolitical boundaries that have perplexed so many who study this massive continent. Intellectual discourses either amplify the differences due to specificities of geographical focus or generalizations to coin the contested notion of “African.” However, using socioecological lenses illustrates how Africa is actually unified by these very differences. Appreciating these differences helps scholarship understand the weaved patterns of social, economic, and political systems that unifies the continent. Using comparative examples between Africa and other continents, this talk illustrates the notion of “African” in describing the heterogeneous nature of this massive continent.

Caroline Desbiens
Professor of geography Université Laval

Opening Plenary Talk

Appreciating Difference: A View from Indigenous Rivers

Monday 6 August


While the “fleuve” Saint-Laurent is considered to be the cradle of Québécois society, many other great rivers are found across the province; other cradles of different civilizations that are Indigenous to Turtle Island, notably the Chisasibi and the Manicouagan. These rivers played a key role in the Québécois movement of affirmation and modernization in the 20th century. They are collectively valued for their hydroelectric output rather than for their cultural richness and significance for the Cree and Innu Nations.

Since the 1990s, I have had the privilege of studying Quebec’s historical geography from the standpoint of these rivers thanks to the expertise that Cree and Innu teachers agreed to share with me. I will speak about how this has impacted both my professional practice as a geographer and my cultural identity as a Québécois.

Olav Slaymaker
Member of the Order of Canada Professor Emeritus
University of British Columbia

Closing Plenary Talk

In praise of the IGU: Reflections on Fifty Years of Geography 

Friday 10 August, 10:30 am -  11:30 am


In this meditative talk closing the 2018 IGU-CAG-NCGE meeting, Professor Olav Slaymaker looks back from a Canadian perspective on the importance of the IGU to the evolution of global geography. In particular, he reflects on how, from a disciplinary perspective, the IGU has been crucial in holding together the many disparate tendencies in the discipline. From a North American perspective, the IGU has strongly emphasized the various national schools of geography, without which North American geography would have remained parochial and narrowly Anglophone outside of Quebec and New Brunswick. From a Western Canadian physical geographer’s perspective, the IGU has provided a counterbalance to the weight of a dominant American perspective. Lastly, from a personal viewpoint, the IGU has provided a wealth of opportunities to function as a globally aware geographer – this crucial aspect has facilitated important international contacts making possible the collaborative research that has so greatly enhanced the understanding of what it is to be a geographer.

Luminary Talks 

Sarah Witham Bednarz

Professor Emerita
Texas A&M University


Geographys Secret Powers to Save the World

Tuesday 7 August, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm


Geographers today are expressing growing interest in the social and political development of children and youth. Much of this concern is the result of the worldwide turn to the right and consequent disquiet about the conditions under which many young people struggle to achieve equality, inclusion, and a sense of personal agency. 

Geography educators have shared these concerns but have done relatively little research to explore the ways that learning geography can empower youth to develop a sense of self, social responsibility, and to raise civic consciousness. In what ways can geography educators help their students to become empowered to participate actively in society?  In what ways can geography educators, through curricula and instructional materials, contribute to creating societies that appreciate, respect, and capitalize on difference? How do geographic knowledge, skills, and practices develop across individuals, settings, and time and how can these understandings be used in transformative ways? We know from research how to teach for transfer. Can these same pedagogic strategies be applied to assist young people to bridge the gaps between knowing and doing? 

Geography educators hone in their pupils two distinct but equally powerful ways of thinking: spatial thinking and geographic thinking. These are our secret powers.This talk focuses on specific and intentional ways that spatial and geographic thinking can effect positive change in individuals. First, I discuss ways that spatial thinking can address gender inequality by closing the gap between men and women in this cognitive arena. Second, I examine strategies to strengthen curricula and instructional materials by applying research from the learning sciences about how individuals develop and refine their opinions and perspectives. Third, I explore how spatial and geographic thinking, in combination with social media and geospatial technologies, can be used to create active, participatory, and emancipated members of society.  Finally, I call for a re-envisioning of geography education to focus on teaching for a world that fully appreciates difference as much as in and about our world. 

Michel Allard
Professor of Geography
Université Laval

Nunavik - Land of Change

Tuesday 7 August, 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm


Nunavik, or “Great-Land”, is an Inuit territory located north of the 55th parallel in Quebec. Although its first inhabitants arrived there about 4000 years ago, it was only instituted as a political territory in 1975 following the signing of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement - a major treaty signed between the Inuit, the Cree, and the governments of Canada and Quebec. Established on the Canadian Shield and surrounded by cold seas (Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay), its relief includes vast plateaus, hilly terrains and large river valleys. The landscape is dotted with lakes and crossed by many rivers. It stretches over seven degrees of latitude across a significant bioclimatic gradient that extends from the boreal forest to the tundra. This gradient corresponds with the presence of discontinuous and continuous permafrost.

Like the other subarctic regions of the circumpolar world, Nunavik is undergoing major changes while its rapidly growing population faces the double challenge of global industrialization and climate change. Beginning in the middle of the 20th century with the settling of the Inuit in permanent villages, mutations of the territory have accelerated over time and are easily perceptible in the eyes of a diligent spectator. Over the past thirty years, the climate has warmed by more than two degrees, causing shrub expansion in the tundra, permafrost degradation in the discontinuous zone, and significant changes to the ecosystem. In that period, caribou herds passed through a full life cycle - increasing to more than a million animals in the 1990s before beginning a decline to near extinction in recent years. Rich in mineral resources, the region has seen the establishment of two important nickel mines that has resulted in major socio-economic change. The human population has doubled and is still expanding rapidly. Communities have grown, a network of airports has been built, and television and the Internet have promoted the inclusion of Inuit communities in the global village. A proactive Inuit conservation policy has concurrently promoted the creation of protected areas and national parks. However, traditional occupations - hunting, fishing, gathering - and the Inuit's attachment to their territory remain fundamental to life.

If there is a constant, it is the recognition that the transformations caused by climate change and globalisation are recreating the physical and human landscapes of Nunavik.

Michel Allard is professor of Geography at Université Laval and recipient of the Polar Medal awarded by the Governor General of Canada.

Jérôme Dupras
Professor of Natural Sciences
Université du Québec en Outaouais

Urban Futures: When geography embraces nature, arts and economy 

Wednesday 8 August, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm


By 2050 three quarters of the world population will live in urban areas. At the same time, global changes, such as climatic change and invasive species, increasingly threaten the green infrastructure of our cities, from the loss of trees and the associated vegetation to the degradation of natural urban and peri-urban ecosystems. This nature is critical for urban well-being as it provides, both directly and indirectly through its role in the functioning of the urban ecosystem, numerous ecosystem services that ensure well-being and security to the surrounding communities. These ecosystem services may be significantly reduced in the face of growing threats from global change. The strength and resilience of urban and peri-urban ecosystems, and consequently the benefits they provide, can be increased by promoting greater structural diversity of the ecosystems and greater connectivity among green spaces to counter the pressures from global change. However, in order for planning for ecological resilience to move from theory to application, economic tools, citizen participation and artistic engagement must be an integral part of landscape planning strategies. This talk aims to show how the tools and approaches of geography can serve as catalysts for building sustainable cities and neighbourhoods.

Randy Widdis
Professor of Historical Geography
University of Regina 

On Globalization, Borders and Borderlands: A Historical Geographical Perspective 

Wednesday 8 August, 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm


Under current dialectical conditions of globalization and increased demands for security, borders are no longer just symbols of sovereignty and national histories; they are evolving into new forms and as such are taking on new functions. Yet while borders continue to exist and are arguably more fluid and dynamic than ever before, despite the once robust but now contested rhetoric of ‘a world without borders’, this doesn’t mean that borders prior to the current phase of globalization (1945 onwards) were relatively static and stable. What is constant is the fact that borders and borderlands are always in a state of becoming and in this context, we need to address the relationship that exists between borderland evolution and the changing forces of globalization. Furthermore, any reflection of the dynamic change that surrounds globalization and borders must also include consideration of effects of spatial and temporal change. This lecture considers the important role that time-space plays in globalization and borderland theory and in doing so emphasizes that any such effort must recognize the importance of historical geographical context. My argument is developed with reference to the Canadian-American borderlands and the relationship between Canada and the United States that developed during the various phases of globalization that emerged after the creation of two North American polities following the American Revolution.

Michael F Goodchild
Emeritus Professor of Geography
University of California, Santa Barbara

Geography and GISCIENCE

Thursday 9 August, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm


Geographers have long argued about the intellectual merits of geographic information systems, and about their relevance to the discipline. While some of these issues have been resolved, the place of GIS in geography is still contested. Recent trends have perhaps drawn GIS closer to computer science, and GIS is today being taught in many disciplines besides geography. If there ever was a case that geography was where GIS belonged, that battle is long since lost. I present a personal and contemporary view of the difference between GIS and GIScience, the importance of geography to GIScience, and the importance of GIScience to geography. This perspective is likely to grow in significance as we move into the age of big data and artificial intelligence.

Michael F Goodchild is recipient of a honorary doctorat from the Faculty of Forestry, Geography and Geomatics of University Laval.

Robert Vézina
President and member of the Quebec Toponymy Commission

Indigenous Languages in Quebec's Toponymy

Thursday 9 August, 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm


Place names are a critical tool for travelling, finding one’s bearings and distinguishing one place from another. This is especially true in a territory as vast and complex as Québec. Furthermore, Québec’s toponymic landscape reflects continuous contact between different language groups, including those speaking French and Indigenous languages. The toponymic mixing observed today is, at least in part, the result of Québec’s language policies. The presence of Indigenous languages in place names reveals the richness and variety of this nomenclature. This presentation will provide an overview of Québec Indigenous toponymy from the first writings of explorers and European missionaries to the First Nations and Inuit geographic names still in use.

Maria Paradiso
University of Sannio, Benevento

Mediterranean Basin Commission: sharing experience and knowledge

Tuesday 7 August, 9:00 am - 10:00 am


IGU Commission Mediterranean Basin (COMB) is the first Commission with a regional focus in the International GeographicalUnion Community. It was established during the Cologne 2012 congress and stemmed from the previous experiences of the Mediterranean Renaissance Program - MRP (founded by Adalberto Vallega). The Quebec 2018 COMB talk has two main focus: the first is aimed at sharing our experience in founding and developing a Commission with a regional focus connecting scholars with a wide range of scientific interests, many from developing countries. The second focus is to conceptualize the Mediterranean basin as a global mobile reality.

Clare Brooks
Reader in Geography Education
University College London

The Power of Geography Education 

Wednesday 8 August, 9:00 am - 10:00 am


Richard Pring asked “what does it mean to be an educated 19 year old in this day and age?” and with recent global events it would be difficult to answer that question without reference to the geographical.  Indeed it would be hard to imagine how a young person could function well in the modern world without an understanding of the geographical influences that have shaped and continue to shape their world. In this celebration of the Commission for Geography Education, I seek to recognise the extraordinary achievements that have already been made in this regard: and to outline what we have come to recognise as what is “powerful” about geographical knowledge and its role in a young person’s education. The 2016 International Charter for Geography Education declared at the IGU Congress in Beijing, and the Declaration on Research in Geography Education, recognised in Moscow a year earlier, are both landmark statements that articulate the rights and entitlement young people have to access high quality, evidence based geography education. But we know that the quality of geography education still varies around the world, and that challenges persist. Why do some jurisdictions recognise the importance of a clearly defined geographical element to a young person’s educational entitlement, whilst others don’t? How do we articulate the progression from learning geography in kindergarten through to geography at the pre-university phase, and how can we support young people as they progress through these stages?  What is the relationship between the geographical education that young people need, and the geographical discoveries made in the academy? Michael Young’s articulation of “powerful knowledge” is of extraordinary benefit to geography educators, as the bedrock to the global phenomena of geocapabilities which seeks to answer these very questions. Whilst the debate of what sort of geographical knowledges are the most “powerful” rages on, the recognition of how and why geography education matters to young people is a success story worth sharing.  The next challenge for geographers and geography educators is how we can work together to ensure that teachers are well prepared to teach “powerful” geography to all.